Dave Stockton is a 2-time U.S. Ryder Cup Team Member and the 1991 U.S. Ryder Cup Team Captain who led the United States to victory at The Ocean Course in Kiawah Island, South Carolina. He has experienced what it is like to make Captain’s Picks and in 1991 he had just two of them. Love III is fortunate to have the chance to have players get hot over a couple of weeks before finalizing the team as he did not have that advantage. The top goal when it came to his Captain’s Picks was finding a partner for Fred Couples and he was able to do that with Raymond Floyd.
Paul Azinger introduced not only four Captain’s Picks but also four Assistant Captains. A Captain needs as much help as he can get when it comes to deciding Captain’s Picks and deciding pairings once Ryder Cup week arrives. When he was Captain in 1991, he had his two sons as Assistant Captains and having more help is very valuable for Love III.
When it comes to playing on home soil, the idea of an advantage for the respective team is not overrated at all. The crowd plays a huge role in helping the home team and they have a further advantage by being able to set up the host course to your specifications. While course setup is very important, the home fans are the most important in providing an atmosphere of home field advantage.
In 1991, there were no cell phones or text messages or even a lot of digital communication. European Captain Bernard Gallacher thought that he had various methods of sophisticated communication but that was not the case. Another difference between 1991 and more recent years is the use of the pod system that Azinger employed in 2008. Stockton was an Assistant Captain for the 2008 U.S. team and it was very helpful to allow Azinger to oversee the team while the assistant captains managed one small group of players each.
Among the 8 automatic qualifiers, Stockton thinks that Tiger and Phil will have the most influence with Davis Love III because they are the senior team members based on their experience. When he was Captain in 1991 he talked with 5 or 6 people that he knew would be on the team about who they wanted on the team.
Tiger Woods can play by himself if necessary so the importance of finding someone who can get along with him may be a little exaggerated. While it may be a bit overstated, it is still important for the Captain to find players who will be comfortable with each other and will team well together.
He admires the fact that Phil Mickelson enjoys being a mentor to younger players and it is great to see how the younger players tend to motivate him. He thinks that veterans will continue to motivated and inspired by the younger players this year. When he played in the Ryder Cup, he was teamed with Jack Nicklaus and he was very excited about the experience. But a great example of the Ryder Cup pressure is the fact that even Jack Nicklaus struggled a bit.
It is great to see that the United States is fired up about the Ryder Cup later this month at Medinah. The U.S. team and the American people want to win the Ryder Cup and this year it will be a showdown between incredible teams led by two of the greatest individual competitors that the Ryder Cup has ever seen. It will be a highly sought after ticket in Chicago.
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